Off to the pub

Sydney: Randwick – members bar, 1970s, New South Wales. Brian Brake. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

Brian Brake took some intriguing photographs of people in pubs and bars. At the Randwick racecourse bar in Sydney he used Kodachrome to capture the garish colours and dramatic expressions. On another occasion he used black and white 35mm roll film to create a different effect with his images of people in New Zealand pubs.

[Men drinking in pub], 1960, New Zealand. Brian Brake. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

My favourite image (below) shows a couple hard at work tending a busy bar, perhaps on a Saturday night in a small town somewhere in New Zealand. My eye returns to the group of three women and a man at the front left of the picture, all appearing suspended in reflective thought between sips and puffs. They contrast with the frozen motion of the bar woman reaching across to the other side of the bar.

[Crowded pub], 1960, New Zealand. Brian Brake. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

On the back wall, above the ‘GENTS’ sign, is a painting that looks to be a view of the Southern Alps. Along with calendars and dart boards, landscape paintings seem to have been popular items to hang on pub walls.

[Men drinking in pub], 1960, New Zealand. Brian Brake. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

Another photograph shows a painting of Rangitoto Channel on the wall above a group of men. The men are all looking down at something – maybe the guy holding the jug is wearing a new pair of shoes?

If anyone recognises these New Zealand pubs I’d like to hear from you.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)